Twitter takes the lead in this week's #SocialSkim with new updates that help brands better use the platform for customer service, a new app dedicated to live streaming, and (finally) a newly expanded character limit that gives you more room to play.

We'll also go in-depth on Google's new app meant to contest Facebook Messenger; and we'll let you in on the new Instagram feature we've all been waiting for, and tip you off to the top 10 social trends for 2017.

Skim to spend your time wisely!

1. Google's new app, Allo, aims for Facebook Messenger

Google's more artificial-intelligence-driven answer to Facebook Messenger and Apple's iMessage launched this week, and it's the Internet giant's latest, and smartest, entry into the messaging app arena.

The app, which boasts an incognito mode if you don't like the idea of Google's keeping tabs on all your communication, is integrated with Google Assistant, a bot that lets users tap into Google's enormous search database to answer questions and grab quick info like movie reviews, restaurants, etc. individually or in group chats.

Allo also boasts smart replies to suggest quick responses based on conversational context, and the ability for users to message those who don't have the app via regular text messages.

It might seem like a late start, but "smart messaging" as we see it today has just begun developing, so Google could have a path to prosperity should Allo prove itself.

2. Twitter rolls out new customer-service features for businesses

A set of new Twitter features aims to help businesses better serve customers with support.

Companies can now edit their new Customer Support settings to indicate whether their account offers customer service via the social network, which automatically turns on the ability to receive direct messages from any Twitter user, not just those who mutually follow each other's' accounts.

Business can also indicate which hours they're most responsive to requests for support. A new, more prominent call to action for messaging is present on accounts that have the new features enabled.

Would you now consider providing customer support via Twitter?

3. YouTube Creator Studio app updated with insights

If you use YouTube as a major medium of communication with your customers, a recent update to the platform's Creator Studio app has a lot of value packed into a small package.

The update lets creators gain actionable insights on their channel stats, as well sends creators alerts and recommendations when major events occur on their pages, such as a sudden spike in views and how to capitalize on it. Also, with new means of contacting YouTube support via email, the release brings major benefits and changes for the creator community.

4. Twitter launched a new app, streamed first live NFL game

The social network worked its way into the living room with the launch of a new app for Apple TV, Xbox One, and Amazon Fire TV that enables users to stream live video on their televisions.

Twitter kicked off the launch with its first-ever livestream of an NFL game last Thursday, which drew two million viewers.

Various reports from users cited high-quality video, but noted a seconds-long delay between the CBS and Twitter broadcasts; as a result, the stream of user-generated Tweets below the live video revealed results before they appeared on the Twitter broadcast.

The digital livestream is still very much so an experiment for all parties involved, and the social network has nine games left to prove whether it can convince more people to sign up for the platform.

5. ABC News to bring 2016 presidential debates to Facebook Live

ABC News' collaboration with Facebook for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions resulted in more than 28 million video views across the news company's Facebook pages. The media giant has now decided to partner with the social media titan once again for the upcoming presidential debates.

For the first time, general election debates will be streamed live on social media, as ABC also plans to bring a curated feed that blends livestreams from inside spin rooms, on the ground at watch parties across the country, and commentary from anchors and journalists. Users' comments, questions, and conversations will also be incorporated, expanding their ability to interact and participate real-time.

6. Your 140 Twitter characters just became more valuable

We tipped you off last week, but now it's official: photos, videos, and other media no longer count toward your 140-character limit on the social network.

The new rules also apply to things like GIFs, polls, and Quote Tweets, meaning brands and individual users have even more space to express themselves on the platform. Go ahead, go crazy!

7. Instagram rolls out "save draft" feature to everyone—finally!

The feature was in testing earlier this year, but the Facebook-owned social network confirmed that it's rolling out the ability to save drafts of posts, for completion and posting at a later time, to all users.

After adding effects, filters, captions, and locations, brands and users alike can now tap the back arrow at the top of the screen without fear, because their creations can be safeguarded for later. When desired, simply tap the camera icon within the app, select "Library," and your posts-to-be will appear below "Drafts." You're welcomed.

8. Voice is the next battleground for messenger apps

It might feel counterintuitive just as messaging apps move away from human interaction and introduce bots, but a new focus could likely become the next frontier for chat and move us back toward our most basic form of communication: voice.

Analysts say the speed and efficiency of voice interfaces, particularly as they increase speech recognition accuracy from 95% to 99%, will soon have most of us swapping text for voice.

Amazon's Alexa, increased VoIP calling on existing messaging apps, and Facebook and Google's acquisitions of speech recognition and natural language startups show we're heading in that direction. And it might just make life easier for all of us.

9. Facebook users warming up to Reactions... slowly

They might still account for only less than six percent of all Facebook users' interactions, but use of Facebook's new Reactions has doubled since their introduction earlier this year, and users are adopting them at a faster pace than before.

The Quintly study also shows that likes account or 77% of Reactions on the social network, but that other Reactions like sad, love, and wow increased up to 23%. It seems they're catching on, and they should help brands get better insights into the sentiment around their posts and page.

10. Bots are skyrocketing compared with apps' early growth

A new report from Citigroup shows that the early growth of artificial intelligence bots is greatly outpacing the growth of apps in their first days, indicating that the technology is still on pace to make a huge impact.

The number of developers working on bots also far exceeds the number that worked on apps in their early days, leading analysts to conclude bots could very well become a daily part of our lives.

With Apple's latest announcement of a new iMessage store that could incorporate bots in the future, is your brand ready for what could become the bot revolution?

11. Keep your guard up: The top 10 social trends for 2017

It's sometimes hard to believe that YouTube launched 12 years ago, and that Facebook once started as a way for college students (and college students only) to connect online. Fast-forward to 2016, and the face of social media has changed drastically. Here are the top 10 social media trends to look out for in 2017.

Covered in detail: expiring social content, consolidation of major social players, increasingly stubborn organic traffic, and the rise of personalization, the social influencer (see image), and the robots. Go ahead, dive in—and prepare!

12. Is paid or organic social more effective?

A Clutch survey of enterprise marketers reveals the majority (59%) find paid social media to be more effective than organic (unpaid). One-third of respondents were neutral, while 8% preferred organic for effectively reaching their consumers.

Some 35% of survey takers said they use paid and organic social media in equal doses, and only 12% say they use mostly or only paid. What are their preferred social channels? Dive into the results to find out!

13. We'll wrap with five essential tips for brands battling social media trolls

Although harassment and bullying are a rampant problem on social media, at its core social brings more of a human touch to our lives online than we had before. People aren't the only ones being targeted by trolls and bullies, however, and brands should take note to protect their reputations.

Fast Company has rounded up five essential tips for brands to consider for protecting themselves. Read through to prepare!

Covered in detail: distinguishing trolls from unsatisfied customers, stopping giving fodder to trolls, never ignoring abuse directed at your followers, approaching brand-on-brand trolling with caution, and actively monitoring your social media community.

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#SocialSkim: Twitter Rebuilding, Google Rejoins Messaging Wars: 13 Stories This Week

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image of Christian Neri

Christian Neri is a digital marketing professional in the film & television industry, and a contributor to MarketingProfs. An American expat in Paris, he recently completed his MS in digital marketing at IÉSEG School of Management.

Instagram: @christianneri

Twitter: @christianneri